Pandemic Pondering #334

A micro blog today, the storms hitting the Tamar Valley have made outdoor activities almost impossible for the last couple of days. Regular walks are taken with our heads bowed against 50 mile an hour winds coming up from the south. Bobbing has been abandoned for safety reasons.

Being focused on just keeping upright has had two bonuses. Firstly this tiny daffodil , who against the odds, is growing through tarmac, near a busy cut through. In normal times the views here are spectacular so no one looks at the ground. I cannot imagine he will be here long.

Close by on the outside wall of an old pub, that is now a coffee shop, there is some old carved graffito. The wall was offering precious shelter from the worst of the weather. Again under normal circumstances the landscape and architecture of this area would grab anyones attention. Just like the tiny daffodil the graffiti shouldn’t exist. The old pub is built of very tough stone but there is this one random stone that is soft enough to carve on.

Just a tiny search on Google brings this little nugget up.

An Ernest Deves was born in a house at the red marker position. The old pub is currently known as the Hutong Cafe.

A chance finding in the London Gazette shows us that Ernest Edward Deves was a skilled labourer in Royal Naval Dockyards.

© thegazette.co.uk
© thegazette.co.uk

The Royal William Yard, a former Royal Navy Dockyard is less than ten steps from the Hutong Cafe.

Even micro ponderings can be fascinating!

Pandemic Pondering #333

Today did not go to plan. There is a fair old chunk of domestic admin to do currently, some of the admin filled nearly the whole morning and I had an afternoon Zoom scheduled. I planned a socially distanced take-out coffee and walk with a friend in the small gap between commitments. The walk had the same restrictions as yesterday, quiet and dog free. Low tide offered the chance to walk further along the riverbank than usual.

We basked in sunlight and enjoyed our drinks while the dogs snuffled around. We talked and talked and walked until we reached the most distant town slipway.

Slipways are areas of sloped concrete to launch or reclaim boats.

We discovered a whole new world of slipway. Unknown to us the dry looking green area was a slippery slope of doom. I was the first to go down. Six to eight feet of sliding down on my bottom took me beyond the dry looking area straight through the slippery looking stuff and into the seaweed coated riverbed. Meanwhile Steph had leaned forward to catch me and also lost grip joining me very swiftly on the riverbed.

This was our view, the dogs had also been dragged down the slope. They managed to stay on their paws. We checked that we were not too badly damaged and then laughed loudly for five minutes or so. The riverbed was impossible to stand up on. The only way out of our predicament was to scramble back up the slope on all fours. More mirth!

The view as we scrambled up!

We returned home to medicate and clean our wounds. Zooming came and went and it was time for another walk, the river was once again the destination but this time I kept myself out of it.

Just as well, as mud is the stand out feature of the afternoon walk.

My favourite patch of mud.

A blue sunset and as the sun goes down my bones are aching a bit. Tomorrow needs to be a bobbing day. The cold water is wonderful for sorting out aches and pains. I will avoid slipways!

Pandemic Pondering #332

I’m not sure what happened this morning. The tide was high and our usual beach was off limits for safety reasons. Our ‘bob’ was lumpy and choppy but exhilarating. Maybe all the negative ions in the air made us super positive.

Bobbing is absolutely a positive change for all the ‘bobbers’, not one of us have ever swum through the winter months before. This is not a habit that any of us would have anticipated this time last year. None of us plan to give it up when the Pandemic loosens its grip.

We ‘bob’ to the North of The Narrows a prominent sea channel used by bigger vessels crossing Plymouth Sound . This morning we were joined in the water by two cement mixers.

Despite us bobbing two or three times a week no bob is ever the same . Our bobs are planned around tides, weather and sunrise/sunset times but even being mindful of these there is no way to predict the success or pleasure of any individual session. This morning the bob was a brilliant experience. No buoys were reached but everyone left the water with a smile on their faces. Even the bobber who inadvertantly went into the sea in her trousers. We all thought she had bought a new long legged wetsuit.

Usually she looks very elegant…

Pandemic Pondering #331

Pondering may just have taken a new turn towards dull. Miss Lola is in season for the first time in any lockdown. Not only are we restricted geographically by Covid restrictions but now I need to find walks with no other dogs. It always surprises me that men, and it is always men, moan at me for taking a bitch for a walk when she is in season when their own dogs are running off the lead with a pair of massive testicles swinging in the breeze. My unusual walks today have taken me to very familiar spots but in a part that I rarely visit.

Low tide at the Waterside exposes beach that is rarely seen . It’s not particularly picturesque. There is a hotchpotch of tatty old boats that definitely look nicer floating on a full tide. But there are some lovely things to see.

A terracotta pipe that spends most of the time submerged in the tidal waters of the Tamar river.

A gathering of old ropes.

Moist seaweed fronds hanging below a pier.

Some ever watching eyes.

And a lone trainer. I could ponder on about a missing trainer on a beach. The red laces are a gift to a photographer and the unusual design caught my eye. Who is the person who lost this shoe? The location below the Tamar Road Bridge is infamous because, sadly, successful suicide attempts end up in this stretch of the river. Of course this shoe is far more likely to have been lost during a leisure pursuit, but shoes lost in desolate places do have a poignant aura.

Anyway we managed to avoid any other dogs and went home for some domestica and then returned later for the evening walk. Elwell Woods is just above the river where we walked this morning. Somewhat cut off from the town this was a historically significant area with a freshwater spring that provided water to the town , first documented in 1284. For nearly 100 years there was a brewery here . More recently there was an electricity generator but ultimately the Tamar Bridge was built in 1961, the access road has isolated this area from the rest of the town. However a recent Celtic Cross has been erected in the area.

It is supposed to be a significant sculpture to mark travellers entry into Cornwall. It is beautiful but the scale makes it fairly insignificant. Angel of the North it is not!

Meanwhile Lola would rather just be snuggled up.

Pandemic Pondering #330

At no time in the last week or so would we have chosen to stand in this location . A cold wind has been blowing in from the East, today it was gone and a watery sun suggested that a taste of Spring was the style of the day.

This visit was not a ‘ Bobbing’ visit but we very much regretted not having our swimming stuff with us. Progressive as Plymouth is trying really hard to be I doubt if skinny dipping from a prestigious tourist destination would go unnoticed. So walking and talking was the focus of the morning 10,000 steps. Conversations were wide ranging but centred for the most part on what the future holds for us after the Pandemic. You can read the serious stuff elsewhere but consider this. What happens when we share an actual exercise room with other people. Will they be willing to see us stretching and moving in our pyjamas? No sports bra keeping our bouncing parts under control. Pilates! Pilates is well known for being one of the more fart producing classes. Doing it on- line in your own sitting room allows a certain casualness about such things. After nearly a year of a looser bottom etiquette, at home , the first few communal sessions may be windier than our last weekend.

We did return later for a swim, appropriately dressed. The weak sun had changed and the currents were not too kind. A good ‘Bob’ was had but it started on our usual beach and finished further to the west.


The tunnel, later, had a different light but was still wind free. Maybe Spring is lurking.

Pandemic Pondering #329

Yesterday was Valentines Day. Over commercialised and lacking originality the day is often the same year after year. 2021 though , felt a little different because everything feels different. There seemed to be less of a focus on romantic love and more on community love. Which is jolly convenient as the image above is about all sorts of Love. The picture above is the Love Tree , found just outside Saltash in Cornwall and the subject of a blog last year. Link below.

https://theoldmortuary.design/2020/02/13/love-tree-jelly-shoe/

It is a local focus for fetish objects to do with love of all sorts. Talisman and mementoes are hidden in roots and the cracks and crevaces of the trunk of this old Elm tree. The custom is hundreds of years old.

The image of the tree was supposed to be artfully printed in gold foil on an abstract watercolour background. The original image and the painted backgrounds are lost in a print shop , victims of the Lockdowns. The exhibition they were intended for never happened. Soon I am going to learn to do Linocut Printing so that this image can have a new and different future.

Different as it turns out is the theme for this blog.

https://www.china-fleet.co.uk/

My Valentines Day was made very different by attending a local sports club to receive my first Vaccine against Covid 19. A brilliantly organised and efficient service staffed by happy and helpful volunteers. A triumph of Science and humanity against a difficult adversary. Aided and abetted in this country by poor political decisions.

My umbrella, needed, on the day, because of the torrential rain, but also, as it happens, as a metaphor for a brighter future post vaccine.

I am very grateful.

Pandemic Pondering #327

It was a ‘Tiara Bob’ today. In other words a Bobbers Birthday.

Also a two bob day.

Our informal ‘Bobbing’ group only has one rule. There always needs to be one non-swimmer for safety and photograhy.

Two bobs were called because Birthday Zooms were needed at the optimum tide . So we split into two groups, one for birthday zooming and one for optimum tide grabbing.

The birthday group were bouyant. The birthday bobber got gifts and Pandemically acceptable hugs.

In the afternoon the Optimal Tide Bobbers were obliged to not swim in the sea as the currents at our favourite beach were a bit too strong. Instead we opted an Atlantic Infinity Pool with a wave splash feature.

Looks like summer, feels like -6

Pandemic Pondering #326

Friday- Remember Fridays!

6 years ago I was preparing for an exhibition in Brixton, London. At the time I was working in Central London and knew that in order to encourage my work colleagues and friends to an Art Gallery over a weekend I would need to advertise the areas proximity to a wide variety of places where people could mingle , drink and socialise into the small hours of the night. Somewhere culturally significant.

Electric Avenue*, Brixton.

By co-incidence, currently, I am helping to prepare for an exhibition. To encourage visitors to the exhibition I am advertising its safety, the fact that you can visit it alone and from the safety of your own home.

https://drawntothevalley.com/

Fridays, they are not what they used to be…

* Electric Avenue. Built in 1800, the street was the first in the area to get electric street lights. The street is home to a famous multi- cultural street market and was made doubly famous by Eddie Grant, who wrote the song “Electric Avenue” in 1983 . At the time he was working as an actor at The Black Theatre in Brixton.

Fridays , not what they used to be but today I bet I have gifted you an earworm**

** An earworm, sometimes referred to as a brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, or, most commonly after earworms, Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI), is a catchy and/or memorable piece of music or saying that continuously occupies a person’s mind even after it is no longer being played or spoken about.

Have a Happy 2* Friday.

Pandemic Pondering #325

Book club reading gave me the perfect word for the current Pandemic. Perturbation! The word came from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. Time to find some Welsh landscape.

Perturbed is a very useful word but I had never expanded it to perturbation.

It works so well with Pandemic and encapsulates our current times without too much jingle jangle alarm.

This months book choice is anything Welsh. I chose Dylan Thomas mostly because I remember Richard Burton narrating Under Milk Wood very effectively. Our next meeting is scheduled for March 1st St Davids Day the Patron Saint of Wales hence the theme.

This blog has accidentally become a book club blog, possibly the only sort of place I could share this odd photograph.

Here I am finishing last months Book Club book, inadvertently dressed to match.

Pandemic Perturbation in a nutshell.